Is her good luck about to run out?
While it’s great that Marvel is finally giving Domino her own solo comic, the appeal with this new series is less the character herself than the creative team involved. It’s been far too long since writer Gail Simone has been a recurring presence at Marvel. And artist David Baldeon is easily one of the most underappreciated creators working at Marvel right now. Pair the two together and you have the recipe for a solid X-Men spinoff.
This first issue makes it clear that on of the core themes of the series is that being Neena Thurman isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As one character points out, from the outside it seems like Domino has hit the mutant jackpot. She’s young, attractive and blessed with a power that bring her endless good luck. By all rights she should be the most carefree heroine in the Marvel Universe. But as Simone and Baldeon establish, that’s anything but the case. It’s hard being a globetrotting assassin/occasional mutant superhero.
This issue finds its greatest success exploring the often complicated relationship between Domino and her own powers. The recurring narration emphasizes the lack of true control Domino has over her own abilities. Furthermore, it portrays those abilities as almost having a mind of their own, frequently rebelling against her in small but critical ways. Between that and the allusions to her dark past and a potential case of PTSD, this issue has no trouble letting readers connect and sympathize with the title character.
That’s not to say the tone is all doom and gloom. There’s just as much emphasis on the lighthearted, slapstick nature of Domino’s existence. This issue packs in a goofy villain or two, a fun team-up with Domino’s fellow femme fatales and a lot of focus on her kooky relationships with fellow X-Men like Deadpool and Colossus. This issue makes a strong case for why Simone was the ideal choice to write the book in the first place. It blends a wacky and often dark sense of humor with cast of dysfunctional misfit characters.
That approach pairs nicely with Baldeon’s artistic sensibilities. Badeon has a relatively cartoonish style, one that frequently comes in handy as he tackles the dynamic action sequences and renders his characters with a wide, exaggerated range of facial expressions. But Baldeon can also handle darker elements well, as seen by his recent stint on Spirits of Vengeance. As goofy as this issue can be at times, there’s also an undercurrent of darkness that Baldeon and colorist Jesus Aburtov capture nicely.
There are a couple flaws holding the series back a bit in its debut chapter. As much as the narration helps illuminate Domino’s state of mind and her relationship with her own powers, the captions also tend to wear out their welcome after a while. The story itself is fast-paced, but the issue still slows to a crawl as the reader moves from one caption to the next. The urgency of the plot isn’t always reflected in the relationship between images and text. And for now, at least, the new villain Simone and Baldeon introduce doesn’t really live up to their portrayal of Domino herself. But hopefully these are problems that can work themselves out over time. And they’re certainly not enough to ruin Domino’s